When I was 9 years old, my baseball coach was Coach C.
Coach C. was intimidating.
He was big, strong, deep-voiced and had a handshake that said, “I’m in control here.”
(Or, if he was in a playful mood, he would snap his hand away and brush his hair just as you extended your hand. Thus “leave you hanging.” An even harsher demonstrating of “I’m in control.”)
He was the dad of friends of mine. But he was different than my dad. Coach C. worked with his hands. He built stuff. He repaired things. And he played college baseball when he was younger.
I was intimidated by Coach C. I think everyone was.
His grown son once shared, “I never understood the saying, ‘don’t cry over spilt milk.’ In my house, if you spilled milk, there’s a good chance you’d be crying when dad was done with you.”
Coach C. definitely knew baseball, but he was gruff. And he had all sorts of rules that I found to be maddening. One of them was about watching your third strike. If you were batting, and you watched your 3rd strike without swinging at it, you had to clean up the bats at the end of the game. This seemed crazy to me. “Good eye! Good eye!” was one of the most common things we would shout from the dugout. Why would we be punished for practicing discernment?!
I can remember cleaning up bats after one game and just SEETHING with anger at the coach. And from then on, whenever the count was at 2 strikes, I would blindly swing at the next pitch…out of SPITE.
It took me many years to appreciate Coach C’s rule.
He wasn’t trying to teach some skill in baseball.
He wasn’t trying to educate us on some aspect of sports strategy.
He wasn’t even trying to win the game.
He was trying to teach us about life.
To SWING at opportunities.
To take risks.
To PLAY THE GAME.
That it is better to get knocked down on the field than to watch from the sidelines.
Life is about ACTIVELY giving it your best shot, not PASSIVELY waiting for the optimal opportunity.
There is no shame in striking out.
And there is little glory in getting walked.
Don’t spend your whole life waiting.
Thank you, Coach C.